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Basics: How to Fire Roast Green Chiles (and Other Fresh Peppers)

Roasting poblano chiles on a stovetop grill gives the fruity-tasting peppers a hint of smoke. Once peeled and diced, the mildly spicy chiles can add zest to a host of recipes, from grilled steak and lamb stew to lightly cooked squash and corn.

Roasting poblano chiles on a stovetop grill gives the fruity-tasting peppers a hint
of smoke. Once peeled and diced, the mildly spicy chiles can add zest to a host of
recipes, from grilled steak and lamb stew to lightly cooked squash and corn.

Roasting fresh peppers, incendiary or sweet, is a simple chore if you have a flame. It takes fire—on the grill or on the stovetop–to blacken the outer skin, cook the flesh of the pepper just enough to intensify its natural flavor and impart the smoky taste that makes them so delicious.

You can use either of these methods to fire roast poblanos, New Mexican Hatch chiles, Anaheims, Bells, or any other fresh peppers.

1. Inside: Place a stove top grill directly over a gas burner on your stove. (Note: I really like the grill sold by the Santa Fe School of Cooking. It is basic, inexpensive and very easy to use.) Turn the heat to high and, after the grill heats up, place the peppers on the wire mesh directly over the flame. Let the skin of the peppers char, then turn to the other side. Continue turning until the skin is blackened and blistered all over. Place the peppers in a paper or plastic bag and close tightly, allowing them to steam for 10 to 15 minutes.

Note: If you are making a summer soup with sweet peppers and tomatoes, do not char the peppers as they may turn bitter. Roast them only until the skins are blistered and can easily be peeled after steaming. (Bitterness is not a problem in heartier dishes and, indeed, may add an appealing dimension to the flavor.)

2. Outside: If you are cooking on a gas grill, simply place the peppers on the grill over the flame and proceed as above. I prefer to roast peppers over a charcoal or wood fire by placing them on the grill directly over burning coals while waiting for the flames to become low enough to cook whatever meat I’m grilling. Use tongs to keep your fingers from scorching. (Note: if you are roasting small peppers such as jalapenos or serranos, you may need a grill basket to keep them from falling through the grate.) When the peppers are blackened and blistered all over, steam as above.

As indicated above, do not char sweet peppers if you are making a summer soup with tomatoes as they may turn bitter. Simply roast until the skin is blistered and can be easily peeled after steaming.

Once the peppers have steamed, take them out of the bag and rub the blackened skin off with your fingers. Cut them open and remove the stem, seeds and membranes; rinse under running water for just a moment if the seeds are clingy. Then spread the peppers out on cutting board and slice into strips or dice, as desired.

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